Thursday, February 18, 2016

Moroccan Food with Wine

By Liza B. Zimmerman

With its slow-cooked mountains of cous cous and long-simmered lamb- and fish-based Tagines--cooked at in conical pots--Moroccan food shows some of the most-sophisticated flavors in North African cuisine. As it is not primarily eggplant-, or yogurt-based, as are many other cuisines that hail from the Middle East, its wine pairing synergies will be different.

Use of fresh herbs, and citrus notes, can make many other cuisines of Middle East easier to pair with fresh, young white wines. Moroccan dishes, on the other hand, with their sultry, long-cooked flavors--and hints of dried fruit--need some reds that soft and corpulent.

A Chef's Take on Pairings
Moha Orchid had a tiny sliver of a Moroccan restaurant near Thompson Street a decade ago. The menu was simple and the menu curated but the flavors were always intense. He had a simple, primarily French and Moroccan wine list that worked well with the food.

He has since moved on from the West Village and opened a pastry shop Jolie Patisserie Jolie in Harlem, but still remains opinionated about the wines that work well with Moroccan flavors. Spicy French reds, such as Cotes du Rhones, Syrahs from various countries and regions and Bordeaux all work well with the intense flavors or a tagine--which generally features lamb, chicken or vegetables long-simmered on a bed of  cous cous.

Morocco has long had close ties with France and French reds tend to work beautifully with these foods. Voluptuous southern French reds such as Kermit Lynch's Cotes du Rhone would pair with a range of Moroccan dishes. Gigondas is another one of my favorite appellation that often makes rich and complex reds such as the Gigondas of Domaine Raspail-Ay, which is produced from primarily Grenache.

Balancing Sugar  and Spice
Moroccan food can feature dried fruit and even a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon on dishes such as Bastilla: which is a delicate pastry stuffed with pigeon in its native country but usually made with chicken stateside. Moha advises that if a dish has a lot of dried fruit in it, you may want to pair it with a drier wine as flavors will skew on the sweet side because of the fruits.

Once again classic, rustic and not-too-high in alcohol French choices, based primarily on Syrah and Grenache would work well. So might some simple Spanish choices. South African blends might also be up to the task as soft, but somewhat aggressive tannins will help to break down some of the fatty structure of the meats and bring out the slow-cooked flavors of the stew. One great choice with these dishes would undoubtedly be Rupert & Rothschild's Vignerons "Classique" an engaging blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It has French structure with New World inspiration.

Some Chicken tagines might pair well with dry and well-balanced Sauvignon Blancs, whether they are from Bordeaux or the Loire Valley or even California. And some of that sugar-inflected Bastilla might do well with the Willm Gew├╝rztraminer Reserve 2012 from Alsace.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Romantic Wines for Valentine's Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Great wines for special occasions should look as good as they taste. The rose category, both still and sparkling, continues to heat up with a range of wines that are lovely to sip before a meal and afterwards.

I have long been a fan of what I call the "rowdy roses," those intense pink wonders often made in Navarra, Bordeaux and even the hills of Northern Italy.

The Spanish tend to make lovely, frequently Grenache-based rose wines such as the Bodegas Nekeas "Vega Sindoa." Bordeaux uses its main red grapes to make big, fruit-forward quaffs such as Chateau Penin's blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvingon with a touch of merlot. Another favorite, berry-fueled pick is Mulderbosch's Cabernet Sauvignon rose from Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Celebratory Reds
Big, unctuous reds--I particularly love blends be they from Bordeaux or South Africa--have always been festive. They are like a party in a bottle as they  reveal layer upon layer of their depth and flavors.

Eastern Washington's Walla Walla region continues to excel in making extraordinary blends, that can riff on both the Rhone and Bordeaux styles yet have their own New World energy). Reynvaan Family Syrah, made in a area called "The Rocks," because of its soil's similarity to the Rhone's pudding stone-laden lands, is a luscious French-inspired wine with a touch of Viognier added to smooth and balance it out.

Tuscany's complex Brunellos are full of spicy and complex flavors. They might pair as well with a home-cooked dish of meat as sip elegantly on their own by the glass in the evening (ideally by a fire). Piedmonte's Barolos and Barbarescos also rarely fail to disappoint. Produttori del Barbaresco coorperative-produced wine remains a favorite of mine.

Sexy Reds
The flavors of Middle Eastern food have long been sensual with hints of prunes and the crunch of almonds overlaid in many dishes. Morocco had long been making wine and Alain Graillot "Syrocco," Syrah has balanced alcohol, great fruit flavors and is Old World in style.

The dusty, earthy flavors of the reds from France's Rhone Valley always make my heart jump a beat with their intense mouth feel. Syrah and Grencache tend to play the biggest roles in these wines with often a half dozen others blended in for good measure. Saint Joseph can be among the region's most austere as an appellation and tends to be more vegetal and smoke-driven in flavor. Domaine Pascal Marthouret Saint Joesph is another great example and a is a bargain at $24.99.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pork and Clams: Portuguese Style

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I have this thing about fresh seafood.  It must be the very freshest for me, as I demand only the very best that money can buy.  Whenever I think about fish, it isn’t the kind that has rested in a freezer case- packaged in colorfully printed shrink wrapped-cryovac portions- sometimes for years before serving.  Nor is it prepared in a boil in bag directly from the microwave like many chain-type restaurants serve, calling this fresh fish.  They certainly have audacity for even calling this product; fish.

Whenever I travel to places that are famous for their seafood, I get hungry and thirsty!  Usually at the same time.  I’ve been doing a lot of book and cocktail events up in New England, so my sense of urgency only gets more profound as the weather (and the water) gets colder.  Oysters and clams just taste more vibrant with ample salinity come the colder weather. 

One of the places that I like to go to for the very best quality seafood that is somewhat close by if you live in the northern NJ or NYC/BK area, is named Seabra’s Marisqueira. 

I’m a huge fan of this restaurant- with free parking available both next door and across the street. (Hint: bring five bucks with you to tip the attendant)

This attractive restaurant, looking more like the authentic seafood restaurant located in Portugal, was established in the late 1980’s.  It is family owned and operated.  They have been serving brimming plates of absolutely the very best fresh seafood available to the market every day since then. 
They travel to the fresh seafood market in Hunt’s Point daily to ensure that the quality of their offerings say that this fish has never, ever been frozen.  You really can taste the difference in quality and texture.   I recommend this place very highly and gave them three stars when I wrote restaurant reviews for NJ Monthly Magazine.

http://njmonthly.com/articles/restaurant-reviews/seabras-marisqueira/

Wine also tastes better with seafood that screams of the cold and unforgiving ocean.  One wine in particular from the island of Australia, the Yalumba "The Y Series" Unwooded Chardonnay is perfectly geared to this kind of food.  Flavors that speak clearly of the frigid depths of the sea.  This wine is not a ‘butter-bomb’, nor is it all fruit-forward that most of all that you taste is cloying gobs of sweet glycerin and stewed fruits...  It speaks a language of citrus zest rubbed on sea-salt slicked slabs of wet slate.  It’s a most profoundly delicious wine at a very reasonable price. 

At DrinkupNY a wine for under fifteen bucks is a very good deal indeed.  And you can rest assured that the Yalumba drinks like more rarified wines, some costing three times as much. 
It does not have a lick of oak!  Stainless steel all the way!  Screams for seafood. What else do you need to know except open your checkbook and buy a case!  And because it is un-wooded, this wine will be as delicious today as it is a year from today. The Yalumba is both fresh and refreshing because it is not tainted by the curse that seems to plague many Australian wines, some costing much, much more.   And that is the curse of over oaking wines. 

Fresh Seafood for this wine should include a dish made famous at Seabra’s named Pork and
Clams.

What they do is impossibly simple, yet brilliant with wines that speak a certain crispness across the palate. 
I’m pretty sure that you’re not going to find Australian wines at a Portuguese restaurant, so put yourself into the very capable hands in this restaurant.  And if you are preparing this dish at home, by all means chill down a bottle of the Yalumba Y Series wine and relax yourself for a while.  Cheers!

Pork and Clams- Portuguese Style...
Ingredients
First you must marinade the pork butt for at least overnight...this is my marinade which I deciphered from eating at Seabra’s so many times.

2 pounds’ Berkshire (richer flavored) pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 bulbs garlic, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay- go ahead, have a glass or two while you prepare this dish!
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, unstrained
1 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil (essential)
1 tablespoon Hot Spanish Paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 bay leaf

To Sautee the pork...
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons bacon fat or duck fat
2 cups chopped Spanish onions
4 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (NEVER used pre-peeled garlic cloves, it’s obscene and just lazy to use that awful stuff)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock (roast bones, add water, boil with aromatics and simmer)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup tomato concasse’  boiled, peeled and de-seeded
5 pounds clams, in the shell, well purged and scrubbed (chill in the fridge overnight with cornmeal just covered with salted water, they’ll purge all the sand very nicely, leaving a non-gritty clam for your tasty cooking!)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Place the pork butt cubes into a large non-reactive container with a lid. In a food processor, combine the all the marinade ingredients except for the Bay leaf. Blend until smooth and pour over the pork. Close the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Add the Bay Leaf separately to the marinade container and remove before cooking. 

Place a large Le Creuset type Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and bacon or duck fat to the pan. Drain the pork from the marinade and set aside the marinade. Sear the pork pieces in the hot fat in batches, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn and do the same again so all sides are nice and crusty. Keep warm in a 200-degree oven while you finish all the pieces.
Add the onions to the hot fat in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 4-8 minutes. Add the crushed garlic to the pan and cook for 50 seconds. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Do not let the flour burn!

Add the chicken stock and the tomato paste- with the salt and reserved marinade to the pan and stir to combine. Stir constantly until simmering uniformly. Return the pork to the pan, simmer and then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to quite low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.  I cook mine at least 2 hours if not more. Add the tomato concasse’ and clams in their (well-scrubbed) shells to the pan, stir to combine and cover. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the clams open, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to low, and sprinkle with the Italian parsley and serve with your Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay in chilled glasses. 

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog The Cocktail Whisperer and the author of nearly half a dozen books, including Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktail and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails- his most recent book.

He's also written about cocktails for Saveur and Whole Foods/Dark Rye, Total Food Service, Eater, Serious Eats, Foodista, Distiller and Beverage Media among other outlets.  He’s taught the fine art of social media and food writing at the New School in New York and at the Institute for Culinary Education. Warren has also taught at Stonewall Kitchen in Maine.

Bobrow was a 2010 Ministry of Rum judge and was the only American food journalist asked to participate in Fête de la Gastronomie, a nationwide celebration of French cuisine in Burgundy.